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Engineering Structures 101

Compiled by
Professor Martin Fahey
School of Civil and Resource Engineering
The University of Western Australia

Pons Augustus, Rimini, Italy, AD 14.
Typical Roman circular arch bridge

Arch Bridges:
Types of Arches

1578 / 1604.Pont Neuf (“New Bridge”). Circular Arch Bridge. Paris. .

leader of “Brothers of the Bridge” [revival of the Roman Guild of Bridge Builders Fratres Pontifices (Ponti-fices = bridge-builders) or Frères Pontifes]. France.Pont d’Avignon. Destroyed deliberately by one of the Avignon Popes for defence reasons. Arches made up of three arcs of a circle . 1188 Frére Benoît (St Bénézet). River Rhone.

Taddeo Gaddi. Florence. A segmental arch bridge (arches are segments of circles). . 1345.Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”). Only bridge over the River Arno not destroyed by retreating German Army in WW2.

Paris.Pont de la Concorde. 1791. Segmental arches (rubble from La Bastille used to construct the piers) . built by Perronet.

Paris .Construction of Pont de la Concorde.

the main elements can be solid or trusses.Common Bridge Types Note that in all cases. .

or box section (steel or concrete box section).Beam bridge: bridge deck in bending deck could be solid beam (eg concrete). or truss .

Simple beam bridge: stone slabs on stone supports (Dorset. England) .

Destroyed by fire in 1970 by two boys! . First railway bridge designed as deep box girder (two side-by-side rectangular tubes each containing a single rail line). Menai Straits. Wales. The designer (Robert Stephenson) included towers for adding suspension chains if necessary. Main spans 460 t. 1850. total span 461 m consisting of two continuous wrought iron tubes side-by-side. wrought iron.Britannia Bridge.

Continuous riveted steel girders. and the roller supports at the piers . Note the absence of internal hinges.14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River.

Switzerland) . (Near Lausanne.Continuous steel plate girder bridge. This 3-span bridge has a composite section consisting of the steel girder and the concrete roadway on top.

Continuous steel box girder bridge over the Rhine. Bonn. 1967. Germany. Note varying depth of the box sections .

Steel box girder bridge in Koblenz. . collapsed during construction due to buckling. Wales. 1970 (35 deaths). Melbourne. and the Westgate Freeway Bridge. Germany. Similar collapses occurred at Millford Haven. both designed by Freeman Fox . 1970 (4 deaths).

and the Linn Cove Viaduct. (The Windan Bridge over the Swan River on the Graham Farmer Freeway is a concrete box section bridge.Concrete box section beam bridges: one of the Florida Keys bridges. North Carolina. but constructed by incremental launching). USA (above). USA (right). .

Mt Henry Bridge Widening .

.Hinge Simply-supported box-section prestressed concrete bridge. BART system. San Francisco.

Railway engineers in the US adopted wooden truss methods for bridge construction for the development of the railway system in the US. .Bollman Truss Warren Truss (without verticals) Fink Truss Pratt or Howe Truss One way of strengthening a simple beam is to use a truss. Pictures show some of the (many) types of trusses that were developed.

Fink “through truss”. US. 1868. Ohio. Compression columns are hollow wrought iron tubes .

The existing bridge was built in 1869 along the B&O Main Line . Laurel. USA.Bollman Truss Bridge. . and moved to the current location in 1888. Maryland.

Deck support is by Warren truss elements. Wales.Crumlin Viaduct. Ebbw Vale. this early railway viaduct is interesting in that it is constructed entirely from pin-connected iron members. Designed by Brunel (1806-59). simply supported. .

California) .Lift bridge. The double spans on each side are determinate due to internal pins. A Warren truss with verticals is used throughout. Lift span is simply supported. Sacramento River Delta. (Near Rio Vista..

UK .Simply-supported steel truss railway bridge.

Trusses are common elements in many types of buildings Steel Pratt truss spanning between columns Merchant Exchange Building. The clear span between supporting columns is 100 ft. (Chicago. and the end of the building (foreground) has a 50-ft overhang. The outside trusses of this building consist of X-braced 50-ft square panels. Illinois) .


Built in 62 B.Fabricius.C.Circular Arch Bridge: Pons Fabricus (Ponte Fabrico). by L. Note the hole through the centre . Tiber. Still used by pedestrians. Oldest surviving bridge in Rome. Rome.relieved water pressure in flood conditions .

built by Abraham Darby. England. 1779. . River Severn.Earliest existing cast iron bridge: Ironbridge.

1779. River Severn. built by Abraham Darby.Ironbridge. . England. Members in compression. connections using dowels etc.

River Severn. Thomas Telford (1796): cast-iron bridge half the weight of the Ironbridge .Buildwise Bridge.

. being the first such wrought iron truss arch bridge to be built by Telford in 1815. An historic bridge.Craigellachie Bridge over the River Spey.

Three spans. First true steel bridge.St Louis Rail Bridge. James Eades. Foundations were a major technical challenge (see next slide) . each 152 m. Mississippi River. St Louis USA. 1874.

2 crippled for life. Would have been much worse except they realised slow decompression and short shifts were necessary. 13 deaths. (50 m. of water pressure). 40 m 20 m . there were 91 cases of the bends. Because of this. or 5 atmospheres.4 atmospheres). Men worked in pressurised chamber at pressures up to 240 kPa (2.Caisson used to construct piers of St Louis Bridge. Deepest point had 23 m water depth and 30 m below riverbed.

Shape is almost perfect “inverted catenary” . high and the world's tallest. This free-standing arch is 630 ft.Gateway Arch. St Louis. Built of triangular section of double-walled stainless steel. USA. the space between the skins being filled with concrete after each section was placed.

Missouri) . into bedrock.Base of the Gateway Arch. The size of cross-section of the arch rib can be seen by comparison with the figures on the ground. sides. The arch is taken 45 ft. The section of the arch at the base is an equilateral triangle with 90 ft. (St. Louis.

Missouri). Louis.Construction of the Gateway Arch (St. . Arch is not stable on its own until complete.

Built in 1793 it is an interesting design in that the walls curve inward towards the top.Interior of Carmel Mission. (Carmel. and the roof consists of a series of inverted catenary arches built of native sandstone quarried from the nearby Santa Lucia Mountains. California) .

Note shape of the arch. . Built by Gustav Eiffel. River Truyère. St Flour. 1884. Twohinged arch design became standard for many to follow. Last (and best) of his many wrought iron bridges.Garabit Viaduct. (Viaduc du Garabit). France.

St Flour. River Truyère. Last (and best) of his many wrought iron bridges. (Viaduc du Garabit). . This photograph taken September 2002.Garabit Viaduct. France. Built by Gustav Eiffel. 1884. Two-hinged arch design became standard for many to follow.

Gustav Eiffel. 1884. The hinge at one end of the arch. .Garabit Viaduct.

The bridge has been repainted recently to a colour that matches the original colour selected by Eiffel. Gustav Eiffel. 1884.Garabit Viaduct. (photograph taken 2002) .

. at the top.The arches are broad at the base (for stability) and are narrow.Garabit Viaduct. but deep.

Garabit Viaduct. 1884. Gustav Eiffel. .

Construction of the Garabit Viaduct. Hinged arch segments were tied back to the towers using cables until they joined together. Compare with Sydney Harbour Bridge construction (see later) .

Porto. Portugal Gustav Eiffel .Pia Maria Bridge.

. 1889. Champs du Mars.Eiffel Tower. Grew from Eiffel’s bridge-building expertise. Was world’s tallest structure for 40 years. Paris. The “arch” shape at the bottom is purely decorative. 300 m tower built of puddled iron.

Graceful ironwork arches in the Musée d’Orsey. having being converted from a disused railway station. Paris. which is now the most beautiful museum in Paris (more manageable in short visit than the Louvre). .

.Different types of arch bridge configurations.

Paris.much gold leaf added then) . 1896 / 1898 (Widely regarded as the most beautiful of all of the bridges of Paris. This photograph predates the painting of the bridge for the 1989 bi-centenary of the French Revolution .Pont Alexandre III.

.Steel arch of Pont Alexandre is a 107 m span ellipse with a rise/span ratio of 1/17. Note the central hinge.

Without appropriate deck discontinuities. .Pont Alexandre III. and the gilt ornamentation covering the support pin at the end of the arch rib. the bridge would not behave as a simple 3-hinged structure. Detail of bridge structure. Note the the casting over the gap in the parapet and deck expansion joint at the top of the slide.

.Pont Alexandre III. Note the gilt ornamentation covering the support pin at the centre of the arch. Detail of bridge structure.

the site of the tomb of Napoleon I . Re-gilding carried out for the bi-centenary of the French Revolution (1788 – 1988).Pont Alexandre III. Dome in the background is Les Invalides.

5 m longer).300 tons of steel (37.000 in the arch).Sydney Harbour Bridge. completed 1932. . It contains 50. New York. which is 1. Almost longest arch bridge in the world. completed a few months earlier. (Longest is Bayonne Bridge. The span between abutments is 503 m to allow unobstructed passage for ships in Sydney Harbour. It is the widest (49 m) bridge in the world. Two-hinge arch.

Sydney Harbour Bridge. completed 1932. .

Sydney Harbour Bridge. completed 1932. .

Stages of construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. .

pioneer of reinforced concrete construction. France. 1929. . Built by great French engineer Eugène Freyssinet. River Elorn (Brest).Plougastel Bridge.

Freyssinet built a single timber form. which was floated into position. mounted on floating concrete caissons.For construction of the arches of the Plougastel Bridge. and the caissons sunk onto the bottom .

Plougastel Bridge: Picture shows one arch completed, and the timber form in
place for construction of the second arch.

Salginatobel (Salgina Gorge) Bridge (1930) in the Davos Alps, Switzerland. This 3-hinged
concrete arch bridge designed by Robert Maillart has a span of 90 meters and a rise of 13
meters. The arch rib increases in depth from the supports to the quarter-span points where it
becomes integral with the deck, and tapers to the mid-span hinge. This bridge was designated
as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1991.

Schwandbach Bridge, 1933, Switzerland. Concrete arch bridge designed by Robert Maillart.
Note the sloping walls supporting the deck off the arch

they are fine examples of modern concrete bridge design. . column spacing on both approaches: 17 meters. Scale of the structure can be seen from the figure. Switzerland. bottom left. crossing the Moesa Torrent. Designed by Professor Christian Menn. on the San Bernardino Pass road.Two slender fixed arch concrete highway bridges. Arch span: 112 meters.

California. Carmel. .Bixby Creek Bridge. This fixed reinforced concrete arch bridge spans 218 m across a deep river valley. 1932.

Fursteuland Bridge. crossing the valley in a single 135 m span . A fixed reinforced concrete arch bridge. Switzerland. River Sitter.

1964.Gladesville Bridge. Sydney. Australia. Concrete arch bridge .

Croatia (1964).Krk Bridge. World’s longest span concrete arch bridge (390 m) .

Austria Timber arch bridge .Wenner Bridge.



Menai Straits Bridge. all individually tested. . Span and 33 m headroom were required for shipping. Linking Wales and Isle of Anglesea. many chain bridges were built. First major suspension bridge. Following this example. Span of 176 m was unheard of for any bridge and the chains were made of a new material: wrought iron links. Designed by Telford and completed in 1826.

1826 .Menai Straits Bridge.

Following this example. This bridge.Menai Straits Bridge. designed by Telford and completed in 1826 could be described as the first major suspension bridge. The span of 176 m was unheard of for any bridge and the chains were made of a new material: wrought iron links. . all individually tested. many chain bridges were built. Span and 33 m headroom were required for shipping. Linking Wales and Isle of Anglesea.

Brunel in 1830. Telford advised Brunel against this design on account of its windy location. Main span 214 m. and the wind problems he (Telford) had with the Menai Straits Bridge. but not completed until 1864. .K. five years after his death. England.Clifton Bridge. Designed by I. road 73 m above the river. River Avon near Bristol.

the Hungerford Bridge in London (1845). .The chain (really 3 chains each side) used for the Clifton Bridge came from an earlier bridge Brunel had designed.

England. . Designed by I. but not completed until 1864. Main span 214 m. River Avon near Bristol. road 73 m above the river. five years after his death. Telford advised Brunel against this design on account of its windy location. and the wind problems he (Telford) had with the Menai Straits Bridge. Brunel in 1830.K.Clifton Bridge.

England. 1887.Hammersmith Suspension Bridge. London. Main span of 122 m .

Double chains used in the Hammersmith Suspension Bridge. . London. 1887. England.

. completed by his son (Washington Roebling) in 1883: First bridge to use steel wire suspension cables. New York. 487 m span.Brooklyn Bridge over the East River. Much of the difficulty of construction was associated with the caissons required to form the tower foundations. Designed by John Roebling.

Brooklyn Bridge. New York .

George Washington Bridge. 1931. New York. Span (1067 m) was 518 m longer than the record at the time .

1931. Towers originally meant to be clad. . but people grew to like the look of the lattice structure.George Washington Bridge. New York. and so it was left as is.

George Washington Bridge, 1067 m span

Towers are 305 m high, the tallest of
their time.

Golden Gate Bridge, 1937. Main span of 1280 m was the longest single span at that
time and for 29 years afterwards. Principal designer Joseph Strauss had previously
collaborated with Ammann on the George Washington Bridge in New York City.

Golden Gate Bridge, 1937. View from
the top of one of the towers, showing the
main cables and suspender cables.
Section of the cable, showing it to be
made up of a bundle of small cables.

Golden Gate Bridge. 1937. Cable “saddle” on top of one of the towers .

Following sequence of slides illustrates some stages of construction . over Firth of Forth.Forth Road Bridge. Scotland. Opened on September 4.1964.

The wires are 5 mm diameter with an ultimate strength of 1500 MPa.618 wires and 600 mm diameter. Each ‘strand’ contains 314 wires . Top of south tower showing the first wires of the cable being laid over the saddle. and there are 37 stands in each cable: 11.Forth Road Bridge. .

The so-called 'cable-spinning' operation. View from the top of the south main tower. The wire is looped round the wheel of the traveling sheave (shown) which is connected to an endless hauling rope.Forth Road Bridge. consists of unreeling a continuous length of wire back and forth across the bridge until a 'strand' is built up. originally devised by Roebling. .

. The individual wires are colour-coded to assist in the spinning operation.Forth Road Bridge. Looking up the cable to the south tower saddle. Note the bundles or 'strands' of wires that will form the finished cable.

Cable saddle at the top of the side tower. Note the size of the saddle which has to take the resultant vertical component of cable tension due to the angle change in the cable at this location.Forth Road Bridge. .

Forth Road Bridge. After the cable has been laid. taken before the truss has reached the side towers or met at midspan. . shows the geometry of the finished cable supporting the unfinished truss. the stiffening truss is constructed symmetrically about both main towers. This view.

Note the scale from the figures to the left of the anchorage. .Forth Road Bridge. View of the south cable anchorage at the same construction stage as in previous slide.

(See old Firth of Forth Bridge in the background) .Forth Road Bridge. The truss has a warren configuration with verticals. Note the scale of the truss from the figures on the closest vertical member. and the top and bottom chords are box sections. Close-up of the unfinished end of the stiffening truss taken from the south side tower.

. Japan. Tokyo Bay.Anchor Block for the Rainbow Suspension Bridge.

me. 1940.http://www. Caused by torsional oscillations induced by vortex-shedding .html Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Washington State. USA) Collapsed on November


much stiffer in torsion (and bending) that the original. 1981 . 1981). UK. UK. Current suspension bridge decks have moved towards aerodynamic shapes that do not suffer vortex shedding (eg Humber Bridge. Humber Bridge.Replacement bridge Tacoma Narrows Main deck girder is now a very deep open truss. Severn Bridge 1966 (next slide) was first that used this shape. and less susceptible to vortex-induced vibrations.

Now the standard shape of suspension bridge decks. . UK (1966).Severn Bridge. Revolutionary aerodynamic shape of the bridge deck avoided the problems of wind-induced vortex shedding that caused the torsional vibrations of the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

London. 2000. New footbridge across the Thames in London. Closed due to pedestrian-induced oscillations.Millenium Bridge. .

Progression in increase in bridge spans for past 200 years .

World’s longest bridge (Main Span 1991 m) . Links city of Kobe with Awaji Island. Japan.Akashi-Kaikyo Suspension Bridge.

World’s longest span (1991 m) .Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. Japan. Links Kobe with Awaji Island.

9 km.Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. Japan. Overall length 3. .

3 km (current longest is 1. All dimensions are in metres. Longitudinal section (top) and cross-section through the deck (above).Note main span: 3.99 km)! Proposed Messina Strait Bridge (Italy-Sicily). .

Proposed Messina Strait Bridge (Italy-Sicily). Schematics of the cables (left) and towers (right) .

Forth Railway Bridge. Completed in 1889, this 4-span cantilever and suspended span
bridge was one of the major engineering achievements of its day, and at the time had
the world's longest clear spans of 521 m. The bridge was built by being cantilevered
in a balanced manner about each pier. This procedure included the suspended spans
which were subsequently released at the hinges

Forth Railway Bridge. Completed in 1889.

Forth Railway Bridge. A train passing over the bridge emphasises the massive scale of the tubular members. .

Bridge collapsed during construction (twice!).Québec Bridge during construction. killing many workers. First collapse was due to insufficient bracing of compression members (buckling occurred). .

Carquinez Bridge (Venezuela) central truss lifting (same system used in Québec bridge) .

Québec Bridge: The Collapse of September 11. 1916 Jacking system failed when lifting the central span into place .

Completed Québec Bridge. 2nd accident occurred during lifting the central section (jacks failed) . Note extra bracing.

This historic bridge.Royal Albert Bridge. K. Brunel in 1859. England) . (Cornwall. built by I. Saltash. consists of a combination of wrought iron tube arch ribs and suspension chains. Each span is 142 m.

Wrought iron. 1858. Saltash.Royal Albert Bridge. . Brunel. I.K. England. River Tamar.

Saltash. . Raising one of the arches into position.Royal Albert Bridge.


Cable stay bridges: Various arrangements of the cables .

One of the earliest cable-stayed bridges. Main span 117 m (London.Albert Bridge across the River Thames. it opened in 1873. England) .

One of the earliest cable-stayed bridges. Main span 117 m (London. it opened in 1873.Albert Bridge across the River Thames. England) .

indicating that the possibility of a resonant effect was recognized.A notice at the end of the Albert Bridge requests that soldiers 'break step' when crossing. London) . Dynamic effects can be important in cable structures on account of their potential flexibility and consequent low natural frequencies (see current problems with Millennium Bridge.

890 m) . Le Harve.Pont du Normandie (River Seine.longest in the world up to 1999. Longest now is Tatara Bridge. Japan. France) 856 m main span .

Arrangement of the cables.Pont du Normandie (River Seine. France). Secondary cables are to dampen vibrations of main cables . La Harve.

France) during construction .Pont du Normandie (River Seine. La Harve.

Cable-stayed bridge in Germany. Note cables only go to centre (between the two roadways) .

balanced cantilever method. .Cable-stayed bridge in Germany during construction .

Modern Bridge Design Many outstanding bridge designers are creating bridges that are both functional and beautiful. . Many examples in Europe and elsewhere.

near the Simplon Pass in Switzerland. but the side spans. The overall layout of the bridge is S-shaped in plan. this is an interesting example of a cable-stayed bridge.Ganter Bridge (1980) spanning an Alpine valley. Designed by Christian Menn. the 174 m main span is straight. though the cables are inside a thin concrete wall. have 200-m radius curves. The taller pier is 150 m high. including the back-stay cables. . and shown during construction.

Ganter Bridge (1980) spanning an Alpine valley. near the Simplon Pass in Switzerland. Cable stayed bridge (see previous slide) .

Designed by Christian Menn. including the back-stay cables. . but the side spans. near the Simplon Pass in Switzerland.Ganter Bridge (1980). The overall layout of the bridge is S-shaped in plan. though the cables are inside a thin concrete wall. this is an interesting example of a cable-stayed bridge. the 174 m main span is straight. have 200-m radius curves.

Very elegant steel arch suspension bridge . Paris (1980s). La Défense.Footbridge.

span: 200 m. This was a first in bridge design. One of series of extraordinary bridges by Spaniard Santiago Calatrava. Seville. . Length: 250 m.Mast height: 142 m. and creates a stunning display. River Guadalquivir. Spain 1987-1992. Max.Alamillo Bridge. The extraordinary weight of the mast (steel filled with concrete) angling back at 58º is enough to support the bridge deck without the need for counter-stay cables.

Santiago Calatrava. Bilbao.Campo Volantin Footbridge. 1990 . Spain. Steel inclined parabolic arch with glass decking .1997.

1997. Spain. Steel inclined parabolic arch with glass decking . Santiago Calatrava. 1990 . Bilbao.Campo Volantin Footbridge.

Spain. 1991. Santaigo Calatrava (engineer and architect!) .Model of Lusitania Bridge. Médira. Gaudiana River.

1991. Spain. Médira. Santaigo Calatrava (engineer and architect!) . Gaudiana River.Lusitania Bridge.


eerc.html • David Bennett: “The Creation of Bridges”. or scanned in from Washington D. Berkeley http://www. University of California. too numerous to mention .Sources The pictures contained in this presentation were either downloaded from the Internet. The main sources used are: • Godden Slide Library. • Many other Internet sites. • “The Builders: Marvels of Engineering”.berkeley. National Geographic Society. Chartwell Books Inc.